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How to Use a Quill: A Practical Guide

how to use a quill: a practical guide

A quill is a writing instrument that uses a metal nib to create marks on paper. Quills are an interesting way to write. They have been around for a long time. They actually were the original writing instrument in Europe before pens became more popular.

Today, you can use it as an elegant accessory to add some flair to your outfit or use it for artwork like calligraphy and lettering. We will discuss how people used quills in different ways throughout history, how you should select one, how to take care of it, and how best to use one today.

What to Know about Using a Quill?

How People Used Quills in the Past?

The quill is an ancient writing instrument that has been used throughout history. In fact, it was popular before pens became dominant.

Historically speaking, most literate cultures outside of Rome and Greece wrote with reed or bamboo pens requiring different techniques than modern metal-nibbed fountain pen tips. The earliest known examples date back to 3000 B.C.

Still, evidence suggests that humans may have first experimented with bird feathers for their ability to hold ink much earlier, as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. These ancient pens were used by cultures worldwide, including in China, Japan, India, and Europe.

The use of a quill pen took off during the Middle Ages when monks and other scribes would use them to write manuscripts. The feathers for these quills often came from large birds like eagles or ravens because their feathers were sturdy and held a lot of ink.

Quills were also popular among nobility because they added an air of sophistication to written correspondence. There are many impressive examples of calligraphy that were done with a quill pen from this era.

However, quills had some drawbacks, they required a certain level of skill to use effectively, and they were prone to leaking or breaking. In the 18th century, metal nibs began to replace quills in

Europe, and eventually, they became the dominant writing instrument.

How to Select a Quill For Writing?

what to know about using a quill

When selecting your first quill pen, you should consider a few factors.

  • First, you need to find one that feels comfortable in your hand. You also want to make sure the pen has a good ink flow so that it doesn’t skip or blotch as you write
  • The size of the pen is important too. You don’t want one too large or small for your hands
  • Another consideration is the type of feather that the quill is made from. You have a few choices in how you use it, and you can select one that has been hollowed out and filled with ink or one that remains solid, so you fill up an empty reservoir on your own
  • The main benefit to buying a pre-filled pen is convenience. It’s already ready to use as soon as you get it. However, some people prefer going through filling because they like doing things manually and adjusting how much ink they put into their pens
  • Another factor is whether you go for natural feathers versus synthetic ones. Natural quills are made by cutting down birds such as geese and swans, while synthetic ones are created using plastic such as nylon
  • The main benefit of a synthetic quill is that it doesn’t have the same environmental impact as natural ones do. Still, they also don’t hold up well to prolonged use, making them more suitable for artistic endeavors than everyday writing
  • The last thing you need to consider is how you plan on using your new quill pen. Are you going to use it just for personal notes and letters? If so, then feel free to select one made out of cheaper materials like plastic or wood because these can be thrown away easily when it wears down
  • However, suppose you plan on doing calligraphy with your pen or want something that will look nice in an art display case. Then, you should get one carved from a more expensive material and treated with a sealant to prevent it from fading over time

How to Use a Quill?

Now that you have selected your quill, it’s time to learn how to use it! Here are a few tips to get started:

  • First things first, make sure the pen is properly inked up by dipping the nib into an inkwell or pot. You can also run the pen underwater if you need to clean it off before writing (just be sure to dry it off afterward, so the ink doesn’t smudge)
  • Hold it like you hold a pencil, making sure that your fingers are gripping the feathers rather than the metal tip. If you squeeze too hard, the feathers may break off and mess up your writing surface
  • Dip the quill tip into the inkwell and make sure that it is fully saturated. You don’t want too much ink because this will cause blots and smudges. But, you also don’t want so little ink that it results in a weak writing line
  • Begin writing at the top of your page and use light strokes for best results. Quills are not as forgiving as modern pens when it comes to making corrections, so try and get it right the first time
  • When you write with a quill pen, be sure to move it steadily across the paper so that none of the ink pools in any one area. This method will help avoid blobs or streaks on your final product
  • When you are finished writing, give the quill a gentle shake to remove any excess ink before putting it away

Now that you know how to use one, it’s time for some practice! You can start by making an alphabet chart and then write on top of each letter with your quill (or try calligraphy). If you want, get creative and add ornamental strokes along the edges or dots in between words.

And, once you feel comfortable using this ancient tool, consider expanding into other areas such as painting with feathers, which I might cover in another blog post once my first few art pieces dry.


Quill pens are a great way to make your writing stand out and seem more authentic. They also help you save money since they last longer than other types of pens.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it with your friends via social media or other means. If you have any questions about using a quill pen, feel free to leave them in the comment section below, and I’ll do my best to answer as soon as possible. Thanks for reading.

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